Victims of storm Alex in southeastern France are still struggling to recover

For various experts, storm Alex, which ravaged southeastern France in October 2020, was a “weather bomb”. In the area north of the city of Nice, torrential rains broke the banks of the rivers. Entire houses were swept away in the stream, sometimes with their owners inside.

The 2,000 inhabitants of the village of Tende – high up in the Roya Valley – were cut off from the rest of the world, without running water or electricity for several weeks. Supplies must be taken in by helicopter. Since then, access has been restored. But not everyone has been able to return. More than a year later, Storm left Alexa’s catastrophic scars.

Ten people in the Alpes-Maritimes department lost their lives in storm Alex, and eight others are still missing today. Among them is the village shepherd, Paul Giordano, who was swept away with his animals. The contents of about 150 graves in the cemetery were spread over dozens of kilometers. Some of the bodies were even found on Italian beaches.

Roads and bridges gave way under the pressure of the water. In some places, entire parts of the mountain have disappeared. Hundreds of buildings and roads were destroyed. Local authorities estimated the material damage at over 1.5 billion euros, with 13,000 people affected.

Early in the morning of October 3, the residents of Tende helplessly witnessed the devastation. Since then, they have tried to get their village back on its feet, but some homes must be demolished before reconstruction can begin. The storm has also left deeper and less visible wounds in its tracks. Over 300 inhabitants have already left the village. Many will not return, too traumatized by the disaster. Others have chosen to fight to get businesses and public services back to their devastated village.

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